Get Aids from burger? What a load of junk

First Published – 01 Aug 2008

Straits Times – Mind your body

July 23, 2008

Get Aids from burger? What a load of junk

A hoax e-mail circulating in cyberspace claims that a boy got Aids from eating food with HIV-infected blood.

PRISCILLA GOY reports

Seen that, debunked that.

A hoax e-mail has been making the rounds in Singapore, claiming that a 10-year-old boy had contracted Aids after eating take-out food contaminated with HIV-infected blood.

That’s yet another piece of urban legend rubbish.

Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, clinical director of the Communicable Disease Centre, said the e-mail showed a lack of understanding of HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus.

This is the virus that causes Aids, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

There are at least three variations of the e-mail: one version claimed that the HIV-tainted blood was found in a burger; the second, in panipuri (a popular Indian street snack); and the third, in cut pineapple.

The hoax said the boy fell sick 15 days after eating the take-out food. He was supposedly diagnosed with Aids when he went for a check-up.

Prof Leo said that it takes much longer than a mere 15 days to determine if one has contracted Aids after being infected with HIV.

She said: ‘Aids is the advanced stage of an HIV infection and it generally takes years from the time of infection to progress to the advanced stage.’

The Action for Aids (Singapore) website states that about 30 per cent of patients develop Aids five years after they are infected, and 50 per cent develop Aids within eight to 10 years. Others may take even longer.

The hoax also claimed that further checks by a hospital team found that the cook who prepared the food had cut his finger and his blood had ‘spread’ into the food. The cook did not know that he had Aids.

Prof Leo said that while the virus can be found in the blood of an infected person, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through food.

She explained: ‘HIV does not survive for long outside an infected person’s body. It has never been proven that the virus can be transmitted through day-to-day activities without direct contact of body fluids… or from the environment such as drinking glasses or food.’

Besides discrediting the veracity of the e-mail, she added that it is discriminatory and stigmatises people infected with HIV.

Hoax-Slayer (www.hoax-slayer.com), a website that has been debunking e-mail frauds since 2003, commented: ‘Such stories serve no purpose other than to spread unnecessary fear and alarm and add to the many damaging misconceptions surrounding HIV and Aids. Bogus warnings such as this should not be passed on to others.’

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg


About 30% of patients develop Aids five years after they have been infected, and 50% will develop Aids in eight to 10 years.

Related Link

– See more at: https://afa.org.sg/news/2008080101.php